It’s the countdown to an exciting Pennsylvania Primary.
There are many things to do prior to the primary to make sure that your experience is a good one, especially if this is your first primary.
Here’s the list:
Mark the date: Tuesday, 15 May 2018.
Mark the time: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Make a plan. What time will you be voting? Perhaps before work, or during your lunch hour, or on your way home. Mark it on your calendar now, with a reminder the day before, and an hour before. Don’t let “I got busy at work” prevent you from going to the polls. Remember that sometimes elections are won or lost by just a couple votes.
Check your registration. You must be a registered member of either the Democratic or Republican party to be able to vote in the primary, with one exception. If your precinct is part of a ballot initiative, you can vote if you are a member of a third party, or no party, but you will only be able to vote on that ballot initiative. No matter what your party (or lack thereof) you will be able to vote in the November General Election on 6 November 2018. If you would like to switch your registration, it will not be effective for the 2018 primary, but will be for the next election, and going forward. Most polling places have forms, just ask the Judge of Election (JoE).
You can check your registration status here. You’ll be able to see the name under which the state has you registered, as well as your registered address.
Check your polling place. Crazy as it seems, sometimes polling places can change at the last minute, due to fire, roofs falling in….check with your town or township as the county website may not be updated.
Check your ballot. Do you know for whom you are voting? Many people tell me “I just always vote straight party.” But this is a PRIMARY which means ALL the candidates on a Democratic ballot will be Democrats and ALL the candidates on a Republican ballot will be Republicans. Every single ballot in the state which has candidates on it has at least one contested race, meaning at least two Democrats or two Republicans vying to appear on the November ballot, or in the case of Party positions, win outright. Well before you go to the polls, it pays to know who your choices are, and where they stand. ICC has a Elections 2018 link – use it to find blank sample ballots (back page of our Voter Guide), in which district you live (entry page of the Candidate Guide) as well as input from the candidates on their top issues, what they would do if elected, and things that make them unique. (Yes! Our candidates include a ukelele player, a ballroom dancer, a community theatre member, an electrician married to another electrician, and a sports nut who relies on a DVR during busy times. PLUS MORE INTERESTING PEOPLE!)
Ask for help if you need it. If you need a ride to the polls, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and phone number, and I’ll have someone call you who will coordinate a time to pick you up. If you have physical needs, for example, if you recently had surgery on the hand you write with (this happened to a friend of mine 2 weeks ago) – you are allowed to bring someone who will fill out your ballot for you. While help to do so should be available at the polls, if you need help due to a physical limitation, bring someone, or drop me a note, and I can hook you up.
Engage your neighborhood. Have you canvassed your block? I bet most people on your block don’t know there’s a primary election. They may see signs along the road but have no idea when the election is, nor which positions are up for election, nor who the candidates are in their district. As it happens, most people do not know which State district (House or Senate) they live in. Honest. Walk around, talk to people, let them know what you know. Refer them to our Elections 2018 section for information.
Perhaps there’s a candidate with whom you are enamored and support. EVERY candidate needs GOTV help these last couple weeks. Contact the campaign and offer to canvass. If you don’t know how to reach a campaign, drop me a note and I’ll connect you.
Commit to Primary Day. You don’t have to be like me. I take both Primary Day and Election Day off from work as religious holidays. Not everyone has my level of “political junkie-ism”. But there is SO MUCH to do. It’s too late to sign up to work the polls for the county, but consider that for upcoming elections: training is provided (and paid) and you earn a minimal amount of money for working the polls. Even if you can’t work the polls as a clerk who checks people in and counts the votes, check with your local JoE. Poll workers are there all day, and if you could deliver coffee and donuts in the morning, sandwiches at noon, snacks, or pizza at dinnertime, it would be very appreciated by the poll workers.
Reach out to your local candidates and take a 2-hour shift handing out lit at the polling place. It’s easy, it’s fun and you’ll meet interesting people.
Alternately, reach out to your local committee and offer to help putting up signs at polling places early on Primary Day. They may need help with lit drops or mailers.
Participate. Remember to vote. That’s the most important thing. At the very, very least, commit to voting. In 2014, the last similar election, here in Chester County, 12.8% of registered voters turned out. The breakdown was 13.2% of registered Republicans and 18.5% of registered Democrats. Yes, pessimists say that’s abysmal, but the optimists say “WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY!!!”.
Bring a friend
Elections have consequences